Ukraine’s battered cities digging mass graves

The Russian bombardment of some places in Ukraine is so intense that towns and cities are being forced to unceremoniously bury dozens of civilian victims in mass graves.

Nowhere is this grim reality of war more apparent than in Mariupol, a key port city devastated by constant shelling, where several burial sites have been hastily dug in the past two weeks.

“We can’t bury [the victims] in private graves, as those are outside the city and the perimeter is controlled by Russian troops,” Mariupol’s deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov told the BBC by phone.

Locations include a retired city cemetery that has now been re-opened, Mr Orlov said.

On Sunday, the city council said the civilian death toll had risen above 2,100. The heavy Russian shelling has prevented any mass evacuation from Mariupol, despite efforts to open a safe exit route.

Mr Orlov could not give a total for dead civilians buried in mass graves, but said 67 bodies were at one site. “Some we can’t identify but some had documents.”

Thousands of residents are hiding in cellars and in some cases, he said, people are burying family members privately in courtyards or gardens.

The battered city’s street cleaners and road repair teams were collecting bodies in the streets, he said, as municipal services had collapsed. “Some people were killed during those collections. We’ve had no electricity, or heating, sanitation, water, food for 11 days,” he said.

Four-hundred miles to the North West, on the edge of the capital Kyiv, a mass grave was dug near a church in the town of Bucha, local Member of Parliament (MP) Mykhailyna Skoryk-Shkarivska said. It contains more than 60 bodies.

Video of the burial was posted on Facebook by a doctor working in nearby Irpin, Andriy Levkivsky. Doctors buried the victims, who had been brought to Irpin hospital. -BBC

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